You’ve probably noticed how the song ‘The Blessing’ has been recorded around the world in different countries? It has become a sort of declaration of unity that transcends division and unites people of many different churches, denominations, nations, and cultures – in Jesus.
Jesus was the one who walked this earth and declared that human beings are God’s creation and under Him we are One. Our differences are meant to be complementary flavours rather than locked in opposition and conflict. Love can be expressed in a variety of ways but whatever the context the essence of love is unmistakable. Worship to God in Jesus has a wide variety of expressions from formal and Orthodox to dancing and charismatic. They are intended to enrich and expand rather than restrict and divide.
I believe one of the reasons that The Blessing has triggered an international response is that it comes from the deep heart cry of ordinary people for friendship and unity to be declared around the world. We really need to rise up and sing in harmony; to work together for something far better than what we have at present.
I’ll be blunt. I’m so sick of hearing about conspiracy theories and how God has chosen Donald Trump and yadda yadda yadda. I’m Trump fatigued with divisiveness, with disagree and you’re my enemy, with trash talking others. If you want to follow that path you have every right to do so… but please give me room and grace to have an opposing view. I’m weary of Christians from different stripes trying to find solutions in the political arena and claiming God’s sanction on their opinion. God does not need our political sandboxes and sandcastles. If He chooses to use anyone for His purposes it is not necessarily an endorsement upon their character, lifestyle or politics. He uses the devil for His ultimate purpose of drawing all to Himself but that doesn’t mean He endorses his wickedness.
Remember when James and John (Sons of Thunder) wanted to call fire down upon a Samaritan village that didn’t welcome Jesus? Jesus reprimanded them on the spot and would have none of it. When Peter with righteous passion cut off the ear of a Roman soldier in Gethsemane? Jesus healed ‘the enemy’ right away. When Jesus was hanging scarred and bleeding on the Cross he declared, “Father forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing.”
We have lost the art of sharing our thoughts and searching for real truth with respect, passion, and dignity. We don’t have to always agree. Sometimes persuasion and revelation takes time. We come at things from different perspectives and backgrounds. We have scars in places someone else has never travelled, and vice versa. Perhaps it would help if we stopped to listen more and speak less (a challenge for me for sure). But here’s the thing. If we want people to understand our point of view we need to have the courage to not only share, but also to be challenged and consider alternatives ourselves. A peacemaker is not someone who avoids conflict and never says what they think. A Peacemaker is someone who shares, listens, and loves the person at the other end – with respect, patience, and kindness, maybe even a sense of humour.
Fake news is a lazy cop-out to doing the hard work of truth seeking, discerning, and digging for facts that can bear the weight of testing. Politically correct is a cowardly way of censoring those inconvenient ‘truths’ that butt up against our pet hobby horse beliefs. Everyone’s truth is true for them. However, it doesn’t translate into universal or objective truth to be applied and taken seriously without testing, exploring, and validating. Instead of that humble graft we’ve opted for shallow and superficial subjective realities that are wrapped in sensitivity and being offended. We’ve become like cry babies when what’s needed is men and women to rise up with conviction and courage.
Here’s the challenge. The rising up doesn’t mean annihilating all who counter challenge or disagree. People have the right to ‘not be Christian’, to live a gay or addictive lifestyle, to be materialist, or hedonist, passive, spiritual, Muslim, Hindu, into hot yoga, motorbikes or even a botanist. Just because we disagree doesn’t mean that we have to condemn, curse, and trash talk. Particularly those who call themselves followers of Jesus. We should be ashamed of our attitudes. Christians are often the worst culprits spouting self-righteous rhetoric and resembling clanging gongs rather than the love of the Father. There are multitudes of people who believe in God but won’t enter a church because of the Christians.
Of course, there are also those who won’t enter a church because they want God plus whatever lifestyle/attitude/worldview they choose without comment or testing. There’s a minefield, but we can even tread there with love and respect nevertheless. Everything under the sun (Son) cuts both ways.
Now, more than ever, we need to receive and pass on The Blessing. It was won violently on the Cross when Jesus took our punishment and judgement upon Himself. So what right do we have to reinstate those very things to others? This world is totally mixed up and lost right now in the confusion of lock-down, opening up, virus and vaccine, politics, fear, and pointing fingers. Let’s not exacerbate the problem but rather fulfil our mandate from Jesus to be salt and light, to be bearers of hope and joy. Open our hearts and doors wide and declare truth with humility, grace, and even tough love at times. But lets put a higher value on friendship than conditional acceptance, sameness, and even agreement. After all we learn from the Bible that God first loved us and offered friendship when we were ‘far off’ and perhaps not so attractive or agreeable ourselves. It didn’t stop Him reaching out with relentless love.
The Lord bless you and keep you, and make His face shine upon you…. and all those around you. Let’s live this song we’re singing and declaring…..